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Obama suggests he would have left his Chicago church if Wright kept preaching

Obama suggests he would have left his Chicago church if Wright kept preaching

White House hopeful Barack Obama suggests he would have left his Chicago church had his longtime pastor, whose fiery anti-American comments about U.S. foreign policy and race relations threatened Obama's campaign, not stepped down.
In his sermons over the years, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has railed against the United States and accused it of bringing on the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks by spreading terrorism.
He also has said the government invented AIDS to destroy "people of color" and has shouted "God damn America" for its treatment of minorities. Videos of his remarks circulated on the Internet and on television.
"Had the reverend not retired, and had he not acknowledged that what he had said had deeply offended people and were inappropriate and mischaracterized what I believe is the greatness of this country, for all its flaws, then I wouldn't have felt comfortable staying at the church," Obama said Thursday during a taping of the ABC talk show, "The View." The interview will be broadcast Friday.
In an attempt to quiet the controversy, Obama gave a sweeping speech last week on racism in America in which he sharply condemned Wright's remarks but did not repudiate him personally.
Obama said Wednesday he has spoken with Wright, who retired from Trinity United Church of Christ last month but remains as a senior pastor.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, broke her silence on the matter Tuesday, saying she would have parted company with a pastor who spoke about the country the way Wright has.
A new Pew Research Center poll shows Obama apparently weathering the storm over comments by Wright and maintaining a 10 point lead over Clinton. The survey has him outpacing the former first lady 49 percent to 39 percent among voters questioned between March 19 and 22. The Obama margin is up by one percentage point from the end of February.
The new poll, released Thursday, shows Obama with a 49-43 lead over presumptive Republican nominee John McCain and Clinton holding a 49-44 margin over the Arizona senator. Other surveys portray smaller margins, including a slight lead for McCain.
Meanwhile, the American economic tailspin is consuming Democratic presidential rivals, prompting Clinton and Obama to put forth competing plans to stop the slide and challenge McCain's economic credentials.
The Democratic focus on the economy reflects voter concerns, the poll shows, with 56 percent of those surveyed rating it poor, up from 45 percent in February and 28 percent in January.
Not surprisingly, then, both Democrats appeared united in belittling McCain's plans for capping American financial troubles in a campaign year dominated by the sharp economic downturn.
Obama said McCain was conducting a policy of "sit back and watch."
"We do American business _ and the American people _ no favors when we turn a blind eye to excessive leverage and dangerous risks," Obama said.
Clinton said McCain would rather "ignore the credit crisis and the mortgage crisis, or blame middle-class families, instead of offering solutions on their behalf."
And she took a swipe at both McCain and U.S. President George W. Bush, whose approval rating dipped to 28 percent in the Pew poll, down from 33 percent late last month.
"I think we've had enough of a president who didn't know enough about economics and didn't do enough for the American middle class. I don't think we can afford four more years of that kind of inaction."
In a Tuesday speech on the economy, McCain derided government intervention to save and reward banks or small borrowers who behave irresponsibly. He offered few immediate alternatives for fixing the country's growing housing crisis.
Then on Wednesday he drew stark contrasts between himself and the unpopular Bush in a major speech. He spent Thursday on a fundraising swing through the American West.
Obama spoke in New York City not far from Wall Street, where he called for greater government scrutiny and regulation of the U.S. financial system, and for offering beleaguered homeowners more help.
Obama said recent economic setbacks on Wall Street and the larger U.S. economy were only a reflection of difficult economic straits middle class Americans had been trying to navigate for years.
"Pain trickles up," he said. "If we can extend a hand to banks on Wall Street, we can extend a hand to Americans who are struggling."
At a community college in Raleigh, North Carolina, Clinton focused on job insecurity and said the government needed to boost help for displaced workers. North Carolina holds its primary May 6.
"Our government is more focused on how you lost your job than how you can find a new one," Clinton said.
The former first lady also proposed extending federal aid to workers enrolled in education programs aimed at updating their skills.
And she called for pre-emptive training that would entitle workers worried about losing their jobs to receive grants to prepare for new employment in a different industry.
The political debate comes as a new government report shows the economy nearly sputtered out at the end of the year and is probably faring even worse in the midst of continuing housing, credit and financial crises.
At this point in the Democratic race, Obama leads Clinton in the delegate count 1,621 to 1,499, including both those pledged as a result of state primaries and caucuses as well as superdelegates _ elected and party officials who can vote for whomever they wish.


Updated : 2021-10-26 16:45 GMT+08:00